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tv   CNNI Simulcast  CNN  December 28, 2014 12:00am-1:01am PST

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make the best entertainment part of your holidays. catch all the hottest handpicked titles on the winter watchlist, only with xfinity from comcast. -- captions by vitac -- if that music sounds surreal to you, it does to me as well. hello, everyone. thank you again for joining us. i'm natalie allen at cnn news center. welcome to our viewers in the u.s. and around the world because we continue to bring you breaking fuse on a missing airliner. it's been missing now just shy of eight hours. search and rescue operations under way right now for missing
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airasia flight 8501. it was en route from the city there on the bottom part of your screen surabaya to singapore when it lost contact with air traffic control early undsunday morning. it was a short flight just under two hours long. the pilot at some point well into the flight i believe asked to change routes because of the weather. and soon afterwards contact with that airport airplane was lost. this is a picture of the plane we're talking about. it's an airbus a-320. we do know how many people were on that flight now. 162 on the flight manifest. that's 155 passengers and seven cry. most on board were indonesians with three south koreans, one singaporean, one from malaysia and one french person on board. we have also learned of the
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passengers 17 were children and that includes one baby. the ceo of airasia tweeted this short statement -- "thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. we must stay strong." we haven't heard from them in a while. if we get any updates from the airline company itself we'll certainly bring that to you immediately. airasia again released the nationalities of the people on board. i just gave that to you. three from south korea. one from singapore. one from malaysia. and one from france. so we continue on here. joining me by phone is greg waldron. greg is the asia managing editor of "flight global." with what we know greg about this plane and its query to divert to another height flying it wanted to go to 38,000 feet. there was a thunderstorm at 52,000 feet. what else are you learning about what was going on in the air in
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that region at the time? >> well really the picture right now is quite unclear. we do know that the aircraft has disappeared. we do know it did request to change course. and we kind of know vaguely the last known coordinates of the aircraft. those have been given. the number of passengers and so forth. but right now we're at this time in the incident which is -- it's very early. i mean nobody really knows what's happened to the aircraft. presumably it has crashed, however. and it's likely if it crashed in the ocean near -- i guess to the west of borneo aircraft has started deploying out there to actually go out and start looking for it. now, the challenge with looking for an aircraft like this is if it's still raining and gloomy out there it's going to be very challenging for the aircraft to actually spot stuff floating on the water. the search aircraft will be very careful to avoid each other in
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the search area. and even if they are able to get some imagery and locate the aircraft it might not be until -- that this is verified and confirmed. we could be in for a long time in regard to this incident. >> who is likely searching beyond the airline company? who is likely to be assisting? >> well the key player in this is going to be indonesia. this is -- the incident appears to have happened -- it was still in the indonesian flight control region when it went down or disappeared. so initial assets on the scene are probably going to be indonesian naval aircraft. and they have a number of planes that are optimized for the search and rescue mission that can go out and start looking around right away. singapore is also i just heard launched a single c-130 hercules aircraft which is a big long-range plane. that's on the way to commence the search as well. but as we saw with mh 370, when
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something like this happens you don't have all of your assets in the right spot to conduct a search in a specific area. i suspect what's going to happen is search aircraft will arrive in the region tonight and tomorrow will be a very robust and thorough search. however, that depends upon the weather. if it's really inclement weather that could really frustrate the search picture. >> for those just joining us, i mentioned off the top of the hour there, greg about that music we're now playing that we use for mh 370, and it just seems surreal we're hearing that again and we're talking about a missing airliner in this region but very different circumstances from what went on with mh 370 earlier this year. but what was learned from how that situation was carried out early on you that hope is not repeated now? >> the key thing is really clear
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and up front communications about what is happening. i understand the airlines have been issuing releasereleases but a few hours ago there wasn't actually a reference to this incident. so again, you really want the airlines to produce information as it becomes available. you want the governments to produce information as it becomes available because otherwise what tends to happen especially with these mysterious air disasters, there's a lot of media speculation. there's a lot of hype. there's a lot of stuff that gets out there on social media. and the various participants need to work to try to control this to keep the lid on it keep everybody calm until we get the real facts of the case emerge. >> what more can you tell us about airasia? some of our viewers watching our coverage may not know much about this airline. i know that earlier we referenced it as a budget
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airline. where does it fly? what are its destinations? what can you tell us? >> well airasia's been a phenomenal success story over the last few years. what they've done is they've really brought the low-cost model into the region. a gentleman named tony fernandes up in kuala lumpur. it's a kuala lumpur-based carrier. and airasia in malaysia has gloen explosively. they've brachld outbranched out in other regions. in indonesia. thailand. they're also going to be flying to india as well. it's a very big airline and it has an enormous order book for a-320 aircraft. it's one of the fastest growing airlines in the world, and it's really feeding living off that demand for low-cost air travel in southeast asia and the broader asia pacific. safety record is decent.
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in particular airasia indonesia hasn't had any safety issues over the years. it's a low-cost airline. it's very popular. and the safety record is very strong. >> did i hear you say it's based in kuala lumpur malaysia? >> yeah. areas of the headquarters of airasia itself is in kuala lumpur. and then they have a franchise model for these other companies. and indonesia, they have indonesia airasia. that's like a franchise of the main parent. they have the thai unit as well. what this allows them to do is having these units overseas allows them to take advantage of opportunities in these other countries but yet get around some of these restrictions around airport ownership rules. airasia will order planes from airbus and then lease these planes out to these units around the region. >> as you were speaking we just saw the sign there at the
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singapore airport. it's kind of creepy to see yet another sign that you know that flight there on that board did not land. we remember mh 370 they had put "delayed" on 370 there in the airport in china. here we have qz8501 "go into foe counter." that sounds very formal. but we can tell people we are told that the airline has set up of course a crisis center to help deal with families there in singapore. and we hope that is the case and they are being comforted at had time. let's go back to -- it is really surreal that now we have another airliner based in kuala lumpur same year as mh 370. but different circumstances. different water as well.
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do you know much information about where they would be looking, the depth of the ocean here compared to mh370? >> well right now this is eerily reminiscent of the first day. it was the morning we discovered there was a problem with mh370. it occurred on a weekend. and i believe the waters they're searching is fairly similar. of course they're several hundred miles, 1,000 miles to the south, but these are fairly constrained waterways. they're surrounded by the islanders of borneo sumatra to the south and west. i don't imagine it would be a lot of depth. we have the last known coordinates of the plane. it will probably be a tough search. but it's probably going to be a much quicker one than what we have for mh370, which is this
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astonishing aircraft mystery. so however tragic this case is i would be surprised if we're looking at another mh370. i think that's where the similarity would probably start. mh370 was such a unique situation we're likely to find out what happened much sooner with this one. >> right. because there was things going on in the cockpit of mh370 that no one could make sense of. not the case here from what we know of 8501. and as you just said they do have the last radar coordinates. is that correct? >> yeah. they requested to change course and they have the last known coordinates of the aircraft before they exited air traffic control.
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control. the cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders. with mh370 when they realized it was in the southern indian ocean there ways arace to locate the recorders before the signal gave out. because i think the signal lasted for 45 days on these devices and the signal actually helps searchers locate the equipment. in this case since it's a much more restricted geographic area they should be able to pinpoint where this equipment is much faster than previously. mh-370 is a bizarre mystery. you don't know what happened in the cockpit. it was a perfectly clear night. it was a perfectly routine night. and mh370 is probably the single greatest aviation minister in history. >> absolutely. it goes on to this day. hopefully this won't be anything
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near that. we'll get some answers they're searching for right now. let's talk about the fact greg this is a very busy route for flights and that there were other planes in the region at the time. what perhaps will investigators be talking with the pilots that were just ahead or behind the flight 8501? >> yeah they certainly could. they probably already have checked with the pilots. the pilots are fairly tight-knit communities. they've already probably checked if they've seen anything. they'll check if they heard anything. that kind of thing. so i imagine the pilots involved in the route would be checked with. and again, it's going back to your point. this is an extremely heavily trafficked bit of airspace. surabaya's one of the biggest cities in indonesia, has a lot of connections up to singapore. jakarta, singapore, it's probably one of the thickest or one of the most heavily
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trafficked air routes in the asia pacific. very heavy traffic route. this airspace this airplane was over was very routinely trafficked. we have a lot of bad weather in the region too, especially at this time of year. airplanes always fly around bad weather. they land in bad weather. they take off in bad weather. and so it's very routine stuff. it's a very routine airspace, very routine stuff. and that's of course what makes something like this so shocking and such a big thing because it's so unusual. >> right. but in this area and especially this time of year, this is the monsoon region and we've been reporting heavily on all the flooding people in this region are dealing with. storms this storm in particular was at 52,000 feet. so although pilots and this pilot had 6,000 hours, although they train for weather it's hard to say where you go when a
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thunderstorm is bearing down and you can't get above it certainly as high as it could fly, which is 40,000. >> well what you try to do is you try to skirt something like that. it's a fairly routine thing to divert around a storm such as this. one case that was interesting in 2014 though it was very tragic of course. md-83 operated by swiss air that crashed in mali. and on the face of it there are similarities. it was an aircraft that was flying in a very stormy region. they asked to divert around the bad weather. and unfortunately there were some issues with that aircraft and the aircraft crashed. now, of course that's a totally separate incident. we can't really draw too many parallels. but with that case it was a case of a weather-related issue. and then you have a -- it took them also a day to find the aircraft.
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and that was actually on land. they located it in a remote part of mali out in the desert i believe. so that's another thing that's similar as well. the aircraft disappears on one day and with luck it's found in the next day or two. with mh370 it went on forever. >> let me ask you about that pilot's freedom to divert. how much freedom is there? what are the parameters for a pilot when they can see that a storm has just turned course and they need to do something and do something fast? how much freedom do they have? >> well they have a tremendous amount of freedom because the first rule of being a pilot, the three core rules of being a pilot are aviate navigate, and only then do you communicate. obviously he saw an issue and he requested a change of course. and then the fact we didn't hear anything else from the plane, who's to say what it would have
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suggested? but in a situation like this a pilot has an immense amount of power to really take care of the airplane. that's his job, and that's something pilots take very seriously. >> and you talked about this being a very popular route. what do we know about the surabaya airport where this flight began? >> well surabaya it's a typical indonesian airport. good size. probably a lot of traffic, a lot of low-cost traffic going through there. so it's going to be dealing with a lot of a-320s and 737s and tees smaller erer types of planes. probably not a lot of wide bodies going in. i believe it's the typical indonesian airport. lots of traffic. and in terms of the ground handling i'm sure it's good as anything you'd find in indonesia in terms of the professionalism of the fuel service. i think this incident, it's just one of these rare ufrpg
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incidents that -- and the fact it happened in southeast asia during a year that's been so bad for southeast asia air safety it's a bizarre coincidence really. >> certainly. it's just after 4:00 in the afternoon there in the indonesia region. can we talk a little about the timeline, then we'll let you go greg and we really appreciate your information and time. the last contact was at 7:24 in the morning local time in indonesia. what time was that plane scheduled to land? and how long had it been in flight? >> i believe it was in flight for maybe about 345 minutes at that point, and it was scheduled to land in singapore at 8:30. you know it's a fairly routine flight. in the passenger manifest i believe there was 17 actual noshows on the flight. of course that's because maybe it's a low-cost flight, it's
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leaving at such an early time in the morning, people can't be bothered to get up and get on the plane. so that was what i read when i saw that. but in terms of the route, very high traffic, very popular. nothing really unusual about it at all. >> all right. well thanks again. greg wald ronn the asian managing editor for flight global. you've been very helpful in our breaking news coverage, and we appreciate your time and input. if you get anything else feel free to get in touch with our control room. we'll talk to you again. but thank you so much. we'll turn now to yusuf irafan. chief editor at cnn thank you so much for joining us. we hear you have been monitoring some of the information coming out from the airline. and we didn't have translation earlier when they did make a brief announcement. so what have you been hearing?
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>> well what we have there were two press conferences. one was held by the head of the crisis center for this incident from jakarta and the other from the minister of transport in surabaya from where the plane began its journey. and both of them are saying that the plane is possibly like maybe it's becoming well known that you know the plane probably lost contact between the island of piritung and kalimantan around 6:18 around 50 minutes after it took off. >> did you say 15 minutes after it took off. >> yeah. around. yes. >> are you hearing anything more about what this plane encountered as far as the request from the pilot? >> yes. there was this -- according to the head of the crisis center
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he was saying the plane actually requested to ascend from 32,000 feet to 38,000 feet because they were encountering -- i can't remember the name of the cloud but he was basically saying some cloud they were trying to -- first they were leaning left and then they were supposed to go -- they were supposed to ascend 6,000 feet from its original course. but then at that time during that time should i say surabaya lost its contact with the plane. >> could you just repeat what you just said about the descending -- >> ascending. >> ascending. okay. he was trying to ascend to -- >> yeah he was trying to ascend. he was leaning left -- moving towards the left of the cloud
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and then ascending, request to ascend to 6,000 feet. from his original course. >> stay with us. i want to continue to chat with you for a moment. i have just been told that the ceo of airasia, tony fernandes, is on his way to surabaya where this flight originated. here's his tweet. "on my way to surabaya" where most of the passengers are from with my indonesian management. providing information as we get it." and we're still waiting for some of the information but apparently they don't have anything significant that they are ready to report. i just want to also point out since we have this tweet out, let's keep it up for a moment, that gosh up until about an hour and a half ago the airasia logo was red that circle. but as soon as this situation became apparent they had a missing airliner for some reason it turned to gray, and that is from their facebook page as well. but we're with yusuf irafan. he is the indonesia
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editor for us. anything else significant you've been hearing there that we don't have access to yusuf? >> well don't take this -- i mean we've been hearing rumors that someone from the western part of kalimantan saw a flight -- a plane descending from a small town called kuchlt lumai. but it's not been confirmed. we're trying to get to the bottom of this. you know we worry that this is just another rumor circling around because as you know we picked it up first from the social media and we're trying to get a confirmation. we can't get any. we called the search and rescue administration here. we can't get any information. that was the latest. and we don't know how to treat this news at the moment because
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there's no -- i don't want to say it at first but then everything's possible at the moment. >> yes. absolutely. and it will be interesting to see if there are witnesses and confirmed reports of people who saw something because right now all we know is that this airplane was ascending to 38,000 feet and after vectoring around a severe thunderstorm that other planes before and after encount encountered encountered, all contact with the plane was lost. we are told they do have the coordinates of the last time that they heard from this plane. and as you just said, it's believed to have disappeared between two islands. how far off the coast are these islands, yusuf? do you know? >> it's not that far. it's 400 kilometers between each of the -- kalimantan and puli --
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it's a stretch. it's not that far. and also it's a quite busy route, ship route. the minister of transport said to us that hopefully someone somehow, some ships somewhere will pick up something, they might not realize what they saw or what they pick up. so there's some hope that some information will be given by ships that are passing through this through the area. and by the way, the minister of transport and also he the search and rescue organization here have sent ships, i think around six from jakarta. i think the first six ships have already left with oun of our
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reporters there to report to cover this story. and also some from bataan which is near singapore. and also another one from contiana which is not very far from where the contact was lost. pontiana is the biggest city in the western part of kalimantan. we saw mainly around 300 kilometers from where the contact was lost. >> you said there's a reporter going on one of those ships to this area. are you going to be in contact with that reporter? >> yes. that's our reporter there on the ship. there are a couple of reporters there on the ship. one of them is ours. >> have you talked with them about what the weather conditions are right now as they look for signs of this airplane? >> not yet. not yet at the moment.
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but as you know it's the rainy season in the area. and you know the wind is quite strong. it always rains. it's a pretty difficult weather at the moment. >> yes. we've been covering it for many many days here. the monsoon. and that is bringing t thunderstorms which we are told by our weather team are prone to be very high in altitude. and this pilot was dealing with a thunderstorm that was at 52,000 feet. listen we thank you so much. yusuf irafan with indonesia out of jakarta with us. if you hear anything else thanks so much for calling back in and we'll talk with you. >> you're welcome. >> as our news coverage continues. so if you're just joining us we've been covering this story a little over four hours now here live on cnn. it is surreal if you're just joining us if we're talking about the same region somewhat that we covered the
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disappearance of mh370 earlier this year. but now we have another airline, airasia and another airplane with 162 people on board. it is missing. we will bring you the very latest on the search what happened, what we know, right after this. (cough, cough) mike? janet? cough if you can hear me. don't even think about it. i took mucinex dm for my phlegmy cough. yeah...but what about mike? he has that dry, scratchy thing going on... guess what? (cough!) it works on his cough too. what? stop, don't pull me! spoiler alert! she doesn't make it! only mucinex dm packs 2 medicines in one pill to relieve wet and dry coughs for 12 hours. start the relief. ditch the misery. let's end this.
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if you're just joining us we know that music sadly is familiar to you as we used it during the mh370 disaster but we do have a new it appears air disaster in that region and it's breaking news out of
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indonesia. hello again, i'm natalie allen from cnn center. search and rescue operations under way right now for a missing air asia airplane. flight 8501 was en route from the indonesian city of surabaya. there it is at the bottom of your screen. to singapore. just a two-hour flight. when it lost contact with air traffic control early sunday morning. most of the plane's flight path took it over open water. there were we're told heavy thunderstorms in the area and the pilot asked to change the route because of the weather. apparently trying to vector around some serious storms. soon after that request was made contact with the airplane was lost. this is a picture here of the missing plane. it again is an airbus a-320 with airasia airlines a no-frills airline has got an excellent safety record. 162 people were listed on the
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flight manifest. 155 passengers and seven crew. here's the breakdown that we know about. most are indonesians on this flight. with three south koreans, one singaporean, one from malaysia and one french person on board. we've also learned that among the passengers were 17 children including one baby. the ceo of airasia, tony fernandes, right now is on his way to surabaya where this flight originated. earlier he tweeted this short statement -- "thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. we must stay strong." we're hoping to get some updates from airasia as soon as they learn something, but we haven't heard anything in a while. we want to give you some of the key times for this flight that disappeared. it departed the airport in surabaya indonesia at 5:35 a.m. local time sunday morning. 5:35 in the morning. it's just a two-hour flight.
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the plane lost contact with air traffic control at 7:24 a.m. a little less than two hours after it took off. it was originally scheduled to arrive after 8:30 a.m. in singapore. excuse me. that would be about -- there's an hour change difference. so again, not to be confusing here but it is a two-hour flight. singapore is one hour ahead of surabaya. but as we mentioned, there was weather in the area that could have slowed down the arrival time considerably. and we should also tell you that contact had been lost for a few hours before the airline, airasia confirmed that the plane was missing. so some serious lag time there before this was made apparent to family members that were there perhaps waiting in singapore and to the public at large. cnn's will ripley is with us from beijing. and it is surreal, will. that we've had two planes that
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have gone missing flying over water in the same year and airasia is based in kuala lumpur in malaysia which is just to the north of singapore on that map we've been showing. very different circumstances. but here we are again with a mystery for mow. >> surreal is exactly the word to describe it natalie. i had the same feeling you did when i heard that music playing, the music we heard in our ears every day for almost three months as we covered and then in subsequent weeks beyond. it consumed a lot of people's lives in this part of the world. when mh 370 disappeared, certainly right here in beijing. i did want to touch on the information and the way it's distributed to passengers because here in beijing there were more than 150 passengers that were supposed to arrive. the plane was supposed to arrive here. and it was more than an hour after the plane was supposed to land that the airline even
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informed people that the plane was missing. so there were a lot of delays. there was a lot of criticism of the malaysian government and malaysian airways for a lot of misinformation limited information and complete information. there was a ton of frustration. but in due fairness it was also an unprecedented aviation event to have a plane vanish such as that one did when there was no distress call no reports of bad weather, no technical problems. this situation here obviously is different. we know that the plane was facing some inclement weather possibly with -- was trying to get permission to go above the clouds to avoid it. so there are differences. but the one thing that the people here in beijing can certainly relate to is just that gut-wrenching feeling of being at an airport. expecting a plane to arrive and having it never come natalie. >> yeah absolutely. we've been seeing the board there, presumably the singapore airport. it says the flight number and
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then it -- pan over and it says "go to info counter." and we remember the mh37 0rks0, i believe it said "delayed" at the beijing airport. it sounds so formal and formula formulaic. we've been told there's a crisis team. of course there has to be. working with families. we're seeing some initial video of families as we did with mh370 because there are so many people at the airport. it's such a surprise when all of a sudden you're expecting to greet your loved ones. it's a holiday as well. and then it just doesn't happen. and what was learned early on as far as covering this story, will about the communications system and what people deserve to know and the system we hope will be in place now as airasia
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begins to piece this together and figure out what happened with this flight. >> certainly what became clear, natalie, was the need for transparency. and people understand that airlines government agencies may not have the answers right away when you're dealing with a crash situation where a plane is missing. but what people do expect is to have a clear line of communication open to have crisis resources available. people that are communicating information directly to families. to the loved ones first before they have to find out about things by watching television or going on the internet. those are things that are important to any family in a time of crisis. and certainly an air disaster in particular. because let's face it there are so many flights around the world every single day, flying is one of the safest modes of transportation, and unless someone has an inherent fear of
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flying most take it for granted that when they say good-bye to someone and they get on a plane that that plane is going to land. it might be delayed. there might be -- you might have some inconvenience on the trip. but you expect that plane to get to its destination safely. one other thing too, and we'll learn obviously in the coming hours and the coming days more about the people that are on airasia flight 8501. but considering the majority of passengers were indonesia sxn they were heading to singapore, i looked online to the indonesian eliminates in singapore, and what they say is it's a relatively -- not a small community. about 200,000 indonesians who are living there and a lot of those people are domestic helpers. the last statistics available saying up to 80,000. but of course it's not compulsory that ind neeshdsonesians report when they're in singapore
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to the embassy. perhaps they're working there and students that are there. as we learn more about these people and their stories and their backgrounds, we need to keep that in mind that for every single name on that passenger manifest they have a story, they have people who are going to be having a very tough time in the coming hours and days ahead dealing with this natalie. >> absolutely. and i know you talked with family members when you were covering this story, and we also know that one of our experts with flight global the managing editor of asia flight global was telling us there were 17 no-shows for this flight. very early morning flight. left at 5:30 in the morning in indonesia, a two-hour flight. and the same with mh370. there were some very lucky souls that avoided that flight as
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well. can you remember other remembrances from just talking to people affected by that situation? because it is really uncanny that we're talking about generally the same region of the world now. >> sure yeah. i remember in the days after mh370 we did tell the stories of some people who were supposed to be on the flight but for whatever reason either they didn't make it or their plans changed. and then there were others who had the opposite story. there were passengers who fly on standby who were able to get on because there are no-shows because there are open seats. and to have this kind of a year here in asia where air travel's becoming much more accessible. now for the first time you have carriers like airasia, based in koala lum ur purr but it's aggressively expanding throughout the region, expanding here in china and a lot of people who couldn't afford to fly five years ago, ten years ago are now able to get on these planes, and it's a huge expanding market as some of the big name major carriers are
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struggling to stay competitive. and that includes, by the way, malaysia malaysia airlines. it's not a discount carrier. it's the state carrier for malaysia based in kuala lumpur, but they are facing competition from carriers like airasia which have slashed prices and made airfare open and accessible for all. and now for a lot of people who are considering flying for the first time they're looking at not only the two malaysia airliners that went down this year there was the transasia airliner that went down this year. more than 40 people were killed in that. of course no survivors from mh370 or mh17. and now we're looking at another tragedy with flight 8501. >> yeah absolutely. and airasia, based in kuala lumpur malaysia. and malaysia airlines has reached out in a tweet as well supporting airasia now that they are dealing with what we presume to be a disaster including flight 8501. will ripley for us out of beijing. thank you very much, will.
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we're going to continue our coverage of course of this story. we have another breaking news story developing. i've just been handed this, excuse me. if this is a little rough. first i've seen it. it's transportation emergency in europe. a rescue operation is under way right now involving an italian-flagged ferry on fire we're told in the adriatic sea. the ferry norman atlantic with 411 passengers left -- i believe it's pronounced igomenizza greece. it was traveling northwest to ankona italy when the fire on board broke out. our information is rescue teams from italy and greece are there at the site using helicopters and an airplane there. at least 150 people have been rescued, but heavy winds are hindering the rescue efforts there. it is unclear what caused the
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fire. several hundred were believed on this ferry. 150, as i mentioned, rescue -- excuse me. 411 passengers were on the ferry. fire has broken out. we'll continue to follow that breaking news story off the coast of greece for you as we get more information. we'll bring it to you. again, troubled weather there for the teams trying to work that situation. the same way for this flight this air asia flight that disappeared from the radar screens going on eight hours ago. let's go back to our meteorologist derek van dam who's been giving us incredible information about what this airplane derek, was flying through at the time it disappeared. of course we don't know the cause of this crash, but we do know and we're dealing with what we do know-s that this pilot asked for a deviation from the flight. what was going on?
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>> that has been confirmed. everything is so speculative at this point, but there's no doubt in my mind, and meteorologists following this story very closely, that airplane encountered some significant thunderstorm activity as it took off from the surabaya area. this is the latest satellite imagery that was just around the time that the last contact was made with the airport traffic control. you can see some of the thunderstorm activity across the java sea that flared up within the hour of the last point of contact which is roughly about 7:24 local time. this would give rise to that turbulence was a major concern for this particular airport in the final few minutes of radio contact, but remember it's not turbulence that brings down an airport. yes, of course it can lead to other things but it's ultimately a catalyst for other problems.
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how the pilots react to that turbulence that is to critical 37 with this satellite imagery it's so clear some of these thunderstorm cloud tops were towering well over 40,000 feet, and with some of the latest statements coming from airasia that the plane or the pilot asked to divert and ascend to 38,000 it is clear that the thunderstorms that they did encounter they were not able to make their way over the tops of the thunderstorm clouds and this causes significant concerns. let's teal look here at the latest as it took off from surabaya and head north toward singapore singapore. this was the time it last made contact with air traffic control and it was reported an altitude of roughly 32,000 feet. i'll step off the screen shortly just to show you what some of the weather models were indicating at that particular time because this is very
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important. this is a turbulence indicator that pilots and meteorologists use to look at the turbulent potential areas across the world. here's java and the java sea where the airplane in question is being discussed about. now, it is indicated as a very high turbulence area. there was obviously some rough weather. but what's interesting to note this wording here indicates that thunderstorm cloud tops were roughly at 53,000 feet. extremely high, indicating it was a very strong set of thunderstorms that moved through the region leading to the possibility that turbulence was a factor. we recall what happened with the air france tragedy back in 2009. that particular airplane went into a thunderstorm cloud that ultimately had ice particles in it blocking a very crucial part of the engine called the pitot tube. and this measures basically the wind speed, or the pressure of the surrounding area across that
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region. and when that gets blocked with ice, serious problems with happen. the auto pilot turns off. and ultimately the pilot has to navigate that airplane just ascend to get over the thunderstorm cloud tops or go below it. and that is obviously the concern for the pilots. this is the anatomy of a thunderstorm. we're talking about temperatures below freeding at 20,000 feet and above. when airplanes fly at these altitudes, they're obviously impacting and encountering ietce particles that could impact that pitot tube i just described. this is no stranger rough weather to this part of the world. this is also the rainy season for indonesia. here is java and the wet season lasts right through the middle parts of next year. it's all thanks to a northeasterly wind flow that continues to drive down this moisture resulting in our heavy
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rainfall from the south and east. unfortunately, natalie there is more wet weather in store. if this is indeed going to pan out to be a search and rescue operation, we're going to have to monitor this area for very very difficult weather conditions for any airplanes flying through for the search and recovery and also boats moving through the region as well. >> information from an international carrier pilot that not only can pilots go ascend or descend but they can do a 180, go completely the other way. but in this situation you just described there might not have been another way. >> we've been talking to some of these flight experts and pilots throughout the course of the evening, natalie, and they talk about the radar that is actually on the plane being so critical. of course there isn't radar at the middle of the ocean. the pilots depend on the radar that is actually on board their aircraft. i did some research and it does appear the radar on airplanes
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can give notifications for thunderstorm cells that are well in advance of the plane. we're talking about a minimum six miles differential between the plane and the upcoming thunderstorm giving the pilot enough time to divert a thunderstorm or ascend above the actual tops of the clouds. >> and as you say, these thunderstorms, especially this region at this time of year, derek, it can be an equivalent to flying into a tornado. >> yeah. that's right. the insides of thunderstorms are so chaotic and so turbulence natalie, they often are considered to be like a tornado. we've got all kinds of what is called eddies that just rotate within the inside of a thunderstorm. you've got updrafts. you've got down drafts. and you can imagine how difficult that is for pilots to navigate through a thunderstorm. that is why when they go through their training of becoming a pilot they learn how to navigate
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around severe weather, being thunderstorms and monsoonal rain showers that are ever so common across this area. they want to make natalie, that flight for you and i and everybody watching us as comfortable as possible. >> and safe. absolutely. and thank you so much derek. very interesting the weather going on. we also know this pilot had 6,100 years of flying but we don't know how many hours as captain of the airbus 320. we don't know if it was a female pilot or a male pilot, don't know anything about the crew right now. but we hope to learn more. we haven't gotten any updates from airasia in some time but we'll certainly bring it to you as soon as we hear anything. joining us by phone from honolulu, hawaii is cnn white house correspondent michelle kosinski. she's been traveling with the president. mr. obama has been briefed on the missing airplane but let's find out what else is going on as far as the united states reaction and what cooperation.
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what are you hearing, michelle? >> reporter: really that's all the white house is saying right now, that the president has been briefed. here's here on vacation. today in particular was the time for him to spend with his family and friends. a short time ago they got back to their rented house after having dinner out with friends. we know he has been briefed. the white house isn't getting into a lot of detail as to how the information was conveyed, what his reaction and response was at this point, just that the white house is continuing to monitor the situation. there's very little information as to what exactly the xuxs were anything more to indicate what happened to this plane. so the white house isn't going to put out a statement just yet. whether there's assistance or condolences. there are things we tend to see after an incident like that. but because it's so early, even though we're talking about the course of hours now and you were mentioning we're still pretty
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clowe on information coming out of that region the white house isn't going to respond, at least not at this point-w a great deal of detail. but when you look at even something that happens so far away the white house isn't obviously directly involved in this, but there are a couple of things that the government wants to know. and not only the u.s. government but other governments as well. first of all, at least in terms of the united states are there americans on board? who are they? are there american families either in the united states or abroad who are in need of some kind of help? the white house would be interested in helping them get to the people who could help them get information and get to a place where they can could get that information. and secondly, you have to consider that other governments are looking at an incident like this early on as is this some kind of terrorist attack? i mean right now there's nothing we are hearing to indicate that it was. absolutely no detail that would
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lead in that direction. but because it is early you know there are communications going on that the public isn't privy top in the intel community just to see what's out there and to see if there is some indication at this point. is it a national security situation? do american planes need to be diverted from a particular region at this point? is there any information out there that could be helpful in protecting u.s. citizens or other citizens around the world? and thirdly, looking at what will be the united states role down the road what kind of assistance could be offered once we know more about the situation. so believe it or not, even this early those kinds of conversations are going on. what the public knows right now is only that the president is aware and that the white house is following it natalie. >> all right. we thank you, michelle kosinski. she is there in hawaii where the
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president and his family are on holiday. and we are watching this. there it is right there. qz8501. it was set to land in singapore. but as the message on the board says, "go to info counter" because it never landed. it has been missing for some eight hours now. more now about the type of airplane we're talking about that's missing. it was made by airbus. and earlier my colleague aisha sesay spoke with cnn's regulation and government regulation correspondent renee marsh who's been in contact with the company that makes the plane. >> i just got off the phone a short while ago with airbus. they're very careful at this hour. they're not speculating, that's their words. they say they're in the process of continuing to gather information, their wording. they're assessing the situation. that's as far as airbus is going. but they're aware there is an event, and they are monitoring it. of course at this point i show
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you know it raises the question of fuel. we know this was a pretty short flight. an hour 50 minutes, two hours. an aircraft usually has more fuel than it actually needs. but again, we're talking about this plane was scheduled to land hours ago. so there is that concern of the plane essentially running out of fuel. it raises the question could it possibly be flying at this point? some say no. at this point, again, airbus being very careful with their wording. i also reached out to the ntsb to talk about what their role would be. essentially, they would need to be invited in. and there's no reason to believe they would not be invited to be a part of this investigation as it moves forward. of course what's going to be critical as you know with all of these incidents, when we know
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more it's really those flight data recorders. it tells us so much, and it really pieces together so many questions we have at this hour. from the data recorders themselves we're going to learn about the plane's engines and the health of the plane itself. was there anything wrong with this plane from the cockpit data recorders. we'll also be able 20 hearto hear did the pilots say anything to each other, what kind of conversations were happening inside the cockpit. a lot of questions can be answered once we get our hands on those recorders. >> and c-130s are searching the water for now no sign of the planes. we have word on one of the ships headed to the area to search for the airplane. again, this is asia air, a very good safety record no frills airline. this is a tweet they put out. "airasia indonesia regrets to confirm that qz 8501 from surabaya to singapore has lost
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contact at 7:24 this morning." that was local time. so about eight hours ago. also the ceo of that airline has tweeted out he is headed to surabaya where the airplane originated where the flight originated. and they also tweeted they're trying to stay strong right now as they try to get information. they also received a tweet from malaysia airlines saying "our thoughts and prayers are with all family and friends of those on board 8501 quoechlts." because as you know malaysia had two air flight disasters they dealt with in this same region this year. after a short break we'll bring you the very latest that we know about the search for this plane.
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